Children Padlocked In Well As Irish Father Is Robbed Of Six Houses InPhuket

In Colin Vard, Investigations, Phuket, Uncategorised by Andrew Drummond24 Comments

‘We have been advised by the police to move location every three days’


May 1st 2011

Two children of an Irish businessman were thrown into a well while his housekeeper working  with ‘organised criminals’ set about to defraud him of his mansion and six other houses on the Thai island of Phuket, it was claimed today.

Irish author and former Dublin clothing manufacturing boss, Colin Vard, 57, said he had to go on the run with his two children Jessie, 12, and Daire, 9, after initiating court action to get his houses back.

Colin Vard and his family – on the road in Thailand since last June

He says he has been told that in Thailand the lives of him and his children would be a lot lot cheaper than the value of the property taken, over 1.3million Euros.

‘We have been advised by the police to move location every three days. I have been told to change my phones and SIM cards and not to contact anyone who could be remotely connected with this,’ he said at a secret location in South Thailand.’I am virtually penniless. But what I cannot ever come to terms with is what happened to my children. They have nightmares every night and wake up screaming. They are reliving what happened to them in the well.’


The current state of homelessness of the former millionaire from Arklow, County Wicklow, follows an almost incredible series of events, precipitated by his house-keeper, a person local police perceived as his former Thai ‘wife’ Sukumpa, from the northern Thai province of Roi-et.

Mr. Vard met Ms. Sukumpa shortly after arriving in Thailand 10 years ago with his daughter Jessie, then two. He admits meeting her in Emporium mall in Bangkok and later on at the city’s Hollywood disco. He took took her on as a housekeeper but for a short while she became his lover and quickly fell pregnant.

“Except for one or two nights we never slept together. We slept on different floors from the off.”There was never a relationship From day one Nittaya slept on the 3rd floor of the house I had my own apartment on the 2nd floor.”

But he said he realized there was not going to be a relationship. She remained in separate quarters in his $28 million baht (600,000 Euro) house in Chalong, Phuket, and he also bought her a small restaurant.  He thought the arrangement was working amicably and that she was happy with it.
In those ‘two nights’ Nittaya  had become pregnant and had a son ‘Daire’ and they started bringing up Daire jointly.
He never anticipated what was about to happen.  Without his knowledge he was gradually being stripped of everything he owned.  By mid-June last year Nittaya Sukumpa, he said, upped and left with his car and their son Daire, leaving a message through her sister that if he wanted to see his son again he would have to pay 5 million Thai baht (113,000 Euros)

Colin Vard’s mansion in Chalong

He could not contact her, then when someone asked about his properties he found that the paperwork for houses bought in his company name was all totally invalid.  The house deeds had all been transferred into his housekeeper’s name.
At the same time, checking his bank account, he discovered that she had not deposited over 1 million bahts from rents he had received on his property.
Though clearly he should have checked his bank account earlier Mr. Vard said he did everything else by the book.

‘When I bought the properties I did everything correct, in fact doubly correct. This could only have happened with the help of corrupt lawyers, officials and criminals.’

For eight months his pleas for help were ignored.  The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs would do little but suggest he contact a lawyer. 

‘Daire, like Jessie is an Irish citizen. I was disgusted at my government’s attitude. An MP even raised my case and got lies back from the Irish government indicating they were doing what they could.’

Lt. Col. Cherdprong

His efforts to get police to investigate went unheeded.  Even Pavena Hongsakul, a Thai campaigner for children’s rights could do little to help him, or if she did police in Chalong, Phuket, seemed to have ignored her.

‘Basically nobody wanted to investigate. It was like getting money from a foreigner was a national sport. It did not seem like I was ever to get justice,’ said Mr. Vard.
But finally two months ago he met a young lawyer Pitchaya Tesramphan  who put him directly in touch with an officer at  the regional police headquarters on the mainland in Surat Thani and also notified the a journalist from Thai national newspaper ‘The Daily News’ who put in some calls.
The young woman did some research herself and worked out what had happened.  It was a mafia sting.  In Surat Thani Police Colonel  Cherdprong Chewpreecha, nicknamed ‘Chilli’ was quick on Nittaya’s trail.
He traced her to Nong Khai, a province of Thailand bordering Laos, where she had gone to live with her boyfriend a ladyboy called ‘Dang’.  Nine-year-old Daire was returned to his father, who a court quickly ruled should have full custody.
Nittaya quickly confessed and is now in Phuket Prison on fraud charges and Police Colonel Cherdprong realized that this was not just another case of a ‘woman scorned’.
And now an investigation is under way into a group which consists of criminals who are targeting foreigners with Thai wives or live-in girlfriends.
Said Lt. Colonel  Cherdprong (above right) : ‘Nittaya was a county girl with no education. She could not have carried out this swindle by herself, and it is unlikely that she kept more than 10 or 15 per cent of the proceeds.’
Daire after his rescue. Lt.Col. Cherdprong in
blue T shirt

Colin Vard is more specific.  ‘ I know some of those involved and they include lawyers, officials, and police themselves.  I am very happy this case has been taken over by police at the Regional headquarters and am very grateful to this policeman in particular. He is Daire’s favourite uncle.’

It was only when Nittaya was locked up in prison, he said, when he heard what had been happening to his children when he was away from home.
Jessie had regularly been beaten by Nittaya and one time had  even been taken home from school by a teacher alarmed at her injuries.  Mr. Vard was then shown those pictures.
The children said that had been told by Nittaya that if they complained to their father they would be killed.

‘I still cannot come to terms with this. How can anybody do this to children?’ said Mr. Vard.’They were left in the bottom of a 15 metre well for two days in shallow water. They were padlocked in. They could do nothing but scream and cry.  They heard passing cars but nobody could hear them.

The well, left, at Colin Vard’s mansion

 ‘They were stuck in the well with big centipedes and all sorts of other insects. Every night now they still wake up screaming. 

‘They were rescued by my gardener who heard their screams, broke the padlock, pulled them out, and took them to his own home.’

Said Dublin born Jessie: ‘Nittaya called me to come to the well. When I got there Nittaya threw me into the well but I fell across it. She pushed me down with her feet.  Then a couple of minutes later I heard Dang (pictured right) shouting ‘Die!’ and Daire fell on top of me.

‘They put the cover on the well. We cried and screamed for what seemed like two days in the water at the bottom of the well.  Then we heard someone and we started shouting again. That’s when the gardener got us out.’

Police Colonel Chewpreecha said: ‘It is hard to believe this woman did these things. But if you ask me is it possible, then the answer is yes.  But the children are vague on things like dates,  and the gardener is scared, so unless we get solid evidence we cannot prosecute.

 ‘There are good and bad people in every country. Foreigners coming to Thailand seeking to date local woman should be careful. They should check the background.

“Most foreigners  looking for a woman, have relationships with girls from bars. Some of them are good, maybe 10 or 20 per cent, but most are not.’

Mr. Vard, author of such books as ‘Princess Finola’, ‘Tatiana: ‘Gift from the Fairies’ and ‘Pirate Queen’ said: ‘When I visited Nittaya in prison and asked her why she did these things she replied: ‘I loved you but you did not return my love.’

A number of foreigners have been murdered in Thailand at the instigation of their provincial Thai wives.
They include Toby Charnaud,  44, an English farmer, who was beaten to death by his wife’s family, who then placed his body on a barbecue and cut it up and scattered it around Kaeng Krajan National Park in Eastern Thailand, and Briton Ian Beeston, 72, who knew and told his friends he was about to be killed.

Toby Charnaud: Killed on the orders of his Thai wife. Not typical, but not unusual either.

He waited alone in his mansion in Roi-et province with a stun gun but was unable to beat off his Thai wife’s lover who beat him to death with a lump of wood.


  1. kirby

    If it not relevant to this case Tony, why bring it up. You are drawing a long bow to say single man over 50 ""is disenfranchised from attention of woman"", what a crock. What relation to the above article your comments have I don""t comprehend,

  2. Dr Jai

    The Farangs who get into such mess deserved everybot of it, despite warnings and almost daily news coverages of such events and warnings, these farangs still come to thailand and settle here, invest locally and end up with the local whores…..what to expect….everyone should know by now how the locals are.

  3. Dave (Qatar)

    What scares me is that she got away with it for so long. The time was put to good use changing ownership of his company houses surely this would have had top go through an official solicitor? easy tracked and questioned?

    How deep does the vain of corruption go in Thailand? Answers on a postcard.

  4. Tony Crossley

    I first heard of these stories over 30 years ago. The same thing will continue to happen while the West breeds men who, if for some reason are single after age 50, are disenfranchised from the attention of women and become desperate for female company (not necessarily sex). Read The Butterfly Circus (by TC)
    Andrew Drummond: I don't think that is relevant to this case though. He had not reason to suspect anything. She had been living separately as a house-keeper for years when this happened

  5. Yohan

    This man made serious mistakes from the very beginning on. How can you invest ALL your money into property in Thailand in company's name?

    As a foreigner, a good part of your savings should be always outside of Thailand and you should be ready to leave this country anytime with a minimum of loss.

  6. Mark Rogers

    This is the type of crime that gives Thailand a bad name, not teenagers dancing topless in Songkran and a just society protects all people, even those who are gullible and foreign.
    So, legal documents were changed without permission, wouldn't that mean that the properties are still his and the people in possession are the ones who have to seek recompense as legally they are still his?? How does Thai law stand on purchasing stolen goods?

  7. Tighie

    This story his bigger holes than the well. The guy was ostensibly living as man and wife and raising their child. As pointed out above, all property transactions would have to go via the Land Office. False signature, false documents = no transaction. Nothing from her side either. This strikes as one more sensationalised 'let's bash Thailand' tale. Mr Vard must have been wearing a blindfold, which as Tony Crossley points out is common.

  8. westerby

    It's one thing to warn mature men about long term relationships with Thai women (whether they be prostitutes or otherwise, it doesn't seem to matter) but how do you tell them to dump all their western inculcated notions of rule of law when they step off the plane?
    If I said that in Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Samui or Hua Hin you should not invest in property and cohabit with a Thai because a conspiracy between mafia,lawyers, the land office and the police will strip you of everything would you believe me?
    Seems scarcely credible even now but admittedly the chap was naive not to have checked his bank balances but there you go. I suppose being millionaire may make one a tad blase.
    Moral of the tale? Rent and never buy what you can't afford to lose.
    Thailand is for fun, not to be taken seriously and certainly, do not, ever, live with a Thai unless you know about them from trusted independent sources and even then check your wallet……..

  9. Marie

    Where was the father when the children were in the well for 2 days?

  10. phet peter

    The immigation officers every year put us through hoops to prove that we can live here and that out circumstances are good. How can one being certain that corrupt officers are helping thses people. They have all out information and details of wealth etc. How can these men be so gullible. If the documents are drawn up correctly, how can these people change it? My wife had to confirm with me in person (I signed permission) before they would allow her to borrow on land in her name but brought after we wed. If they have so much money to spend These men should be made to retain a lawyer, for all transactions.

  11. Anthony

    No need to be hard on the guy – no one wants these things to happen to them nor do people deserve to be ripped off by criminals. The only thing the guy was silly about was not keeping tight control on the finances – that will cost him money, but shouldn't cost him everything.

    What I find strange is if the guy is ""on the run"" for fear of his own life and those of his children, why has a picture been published of them?

  12. Serf

    The Farangs who get into such mess deserved everybot of it, despite warnings and almost daily news coverages of such events and warnings, these farangs still come to thailand and settle here, invest locally and end up with the local whores…..what to expect….everyone should know by now how the locals are.

    Yes, they should have read the situation a bit more carefully. However, ….. As the victim himself indicated: high-ups are undoubtedly involved in this. I think you should broaden your warning to indicate that farangs are also just as greatly at risk from those who claim to be the country's leaders.They're either at risk from both the numerous flat-out criminals in the local elite, and from those have been rendered inactive by the criminality of their peers and overseers. This place has long been essentially a non-functioning state, due to the constant local penchant for corruption amongst those who presume to rule. 'Whores' are only one small part of the problem.

  13. Andrew Drummond

    Just to clarify. Mr.Vard actually did everything by the book. He took the usual safeguards and many more. His rents were paid successfully for many years. The maid showed him recipts up until the end.
    You have to look at lawyers and the answer is you really have to have good local knowledge to know who the good lawyers are in Thailand.
    Even ALL Embassies who provide lists of lawyers to foreigners in trouble all also provide a disclaimer saying they are not responsible if things go wrong.
    Prior to the publication of the family picture I spoke with police about the possible risks.
    Mr.Vard is in hiding, is on the move, and not going into areas where there are foreigners or where he might be recognised. The judgment here is whether to get this out into the public domain which may help or let him battle quietly for years only to find nothing happening.

  14. The Dude

    Thank Police Colonel Cherdprong. It's going to take a long time to professionalize and clean out the police in a developing country, just as it did back in the US in the early/mid 20th century, but with enough police at regional and national levels who care about some level of integrity things do eventually get better. This Colonel deserves a lot of thanks for championing a case that would have otherwise gone on to become just another statistic.

  15. dr dan

    The fact remains – This was very wrong….
    The farang actually bought a restaurant and improved her life – but that is never enough for a greedy self centered uneducated bitter and scorned parasite.
    Also, whilst above commentator seem quite on the attack of the dumb foreigner the fact that this foreigner made a good living here was dependant on one thing. In order to have a business – you need a Thai or Two to register that 49/51% company. He obviously used the housekeeper to do this – thats how she transfered the property to her name.
    The facts are no foreigner can make any money here without befriending some Thai. No doubt he did all the work in making a successful company and she wanted it ALL…
    The acts these people play discusts me..

  16. Hermann

    There is another case happens actually to me. But there is a nice miniscule difference:

    My houselady with high connections to the police got me put in the jail with totally wrong, ridiculous accusations to rob me, with the help of immigration and some farangs and last but not least with about 3/4 other ladies they declare to the police to be my wifes. I am still married officially to my thai-wife ""on the run""!?

    I am not rich, but if my wife long-time ago declare to other greedy north-eastern and northern people that when she would divorce me (1 month after marriage by amphoe), and get half of my money of never existing 72 millions, the people did everything what she ordered. First in 2008 my wife kicked me with the help of the village-boss out of my office/workshop and under my name rented house, following by 2 assassination attempts.
    Last year I get my property back through a appeal-court decision and exactly in that moment started the final problems: two more assassination attempts and jail-time in a far-away province followed straight-on with a kidnapping in a police-pickup, inside the daughter of a police-boss (with pillow), a rally-driver, a police in without uniform and a professional killer. They let me sit on the rear-seats by the door-side hand-cuffed with the intention to opeen the door and let me fall outside with 140 km/hour, declaring that I tried to escape. After 700 km again in a police-jail and then for some weeks in a provincial jail together with 55 persons in a 50 sqm cell. Another ordered stab-down in the prison I could avoid and now I start again, still without passport (stolen by my ""loved"" secretary! She declares it was the tourist-police?!)! – Fortunally I was born not to be afraid!
    About all what will be happen I informed my embassy with fax/mail and mobile in advance!
    What they are doing? To believe my house lady that I am crazy.
    I am a special man quite different from ""normal""! But being different doesn't mean I am stupid orcrazy –


  17. Randolph J.

    Hi Andrew, for such a well researched article you leave out one of the most important details: who are the actual Thai owners of the real estate company in which Mr. Vard is a minority shareholder? Did they authorize the sale or transfer of these properties?

    Without access to the corporate minutes it is difficult to state what laws, if any, were broken by the company owners in regards to the disposition of these properties.

  18. Lloyd

    Personal financial matters should be dealt with through the courts, not crime, Mr. Vards personal life aside, whatever relationship a foreign man has with a Thai lady is somewhat irrelevant and should not be allowed to hide the fiscal crimes that have been committed by persons in positions of trust.

    I can't imagine someone who successfully built up and sold a multi million dollar business would not have done his due diligence. It is very different being a ""Euro"" millionaire than a baht millionaire, it takes more than just a strong exchange rate to get to that level of wealth especially when it is through hard work. It is more than likely that that Mr. Vard was mislead and manipulated by his lawyers and the other share holders in his company for their own gains, combine this with corrupt, weak or ignorant Government officials and there is very little Mr. Vard could have done to have foreseen or stopped what has happened.

    The bigger picture is the corruption in Phuket and the lack of accountability and action taken against those who have committed crimes against foreign investors.

  19. Harry Barracuda

    Corruption in Thailand, who'd have believed it?

    Mr. Drummond can make good mint writing about these scams, there's an endless supply.

  20. Phuket Real Estate

    Ive known Colin since he arrived in Phuket and I even designed and built his ""mansion"".
    He is a fantastic bloke and no idiot when it comes to his assets.
    Im very sorry to have read this today and my heart goes out to him and his children.

  21. Tony Crossley

    A common hypocrisy of Farang in Thailand is to eagerly exploit low moral standards that allows a wife/ sexual partner to be rented, but complain bitterly about low standards when a Farang is exploited.

  22. Tony Crossley

    Please understand that I do not deny wrong was done to Mr Vard or that he deserves sympathy, but clear from the reported FACTS is that at best he was incautious and the woman was far more than his maid. A good point is made by ‘The Dude’ below. Anyone contemplating doing business in Thailand must know the country is in the early stages of ‘high-up’ crime investigation and law enforcement, and corruption is endemic. There is ALWAYS something to suspect in business that involves big money. ‘Harry Barracuda’ below is wrong; western publishers and readers show little interest in stories that involve a western man who lost out because he lost the plot over a Thai woman. With a story that involves a wealthy man who pursued and impregnated a ‘poor’ woman, and for years she raised his children besides managing his household and seemingly some business affairs too, feminists would have a field day. Some would undoubtedly say that he wanted the benefits of a wife without the commitments, and that by dangling an irresistible carrot in front of the woman, he was not only the author of his own misfortune but caused her downfall too. Where this case will go I cannot say, but it seems to me that Mr Vard’s best way forward might be the Thai way of negotiating a return of at least some of his defrauded assets in exchange for not pursuing prosecution.

Leave a Comment